Soni Continues USC Tradition of Prowess in the Pool

Retired coach Peter Daland turned the program to gold

Rebecca Soni isn't the first USC swimmer to bring honor to the cardinal and gold.

“He got a couple of relay medals,” recalls Peter Daland, the former USC Swim coach, as he studies one of his many old photos of champions he has coached.

His memory gets hazy now, as he recalls the likes of  John Naber, Joe and Mike Bottom, Bruce Furniss, Dave Wharton and the other swimming greats he coached.  That's not surprising. At age 91, Daland has a lot to remember.

“He was an Olympic runner up, oh no, an Olympic champion,” he says, searching his memory.

Even a much younger man would have trouble keeping them all straight. During 35 years at USC he coached 80 Olympic athletes. Twenty of them won medals.

“We’ve won more firsts and more medals in men and women swimming than anybody else,” he says proudly.

Coach Daland first got his appetite for the Olympics in 1948 in, of all places, London.


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“First post-war games," he recalls. "We hadn’t had Olympics since ’36. That’s 12 years. The world was starved for Olympics.”

That was his first. He would attend 10 more through the years. He coached the USA team in 1972 at Munich.That was the year a guy named Mark Spitz made a name for himself.

USC had produced Olympians before Daland arrived. But the Daland era may be remembered as the time that cemented the school's standing for years to come. Right up to Thursday night.

“That’s a pretty solid domination,” he says proudly.

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